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Tuesday, August 09, 2011


I'm not at all embarrassed to say I've been a customer-service kiss-ass for years. In person or on the phone, I make sure to learn the person's name, say please and thank you, and just try to project an overall pleasant and positive demeanor.

Most of the time.

Two weeks ago it was Best Buy, and today I'm aiming my rifle at DirecTV.

I understand a company's desire to maximize profits by keeping phone lines open around the clock, and having off-hour calls routed overseas where cheap Asians are "glad to answer that question" for me in just one moment makes good business sense on paper.

But what about during regular business hours? This is an American company with all of its major offices in the United States. I'm no research whiz, but I imagine it has more customers in the U.S. than in any other country. So is it good customer service for DirecTV -- or in this case its minor-league outfit in South Florida, DirecPath -- to send all of its customer calls somewhere where there's a sometimes-difficult accent barrier and a risk that the rep would be unfamiliar with any potential local logistical issue?

The answer you're looking for is, No, John, it's not.

Yet that's what this enormous company appears to have done, outsourced its entire calling operation to the Philippines. These people sure are friendly, but there are obvious translation issues, and when they happen repeatedly during one conversation -- not to mention all three of them that I've had in less than a week -- that extends the call and at least quadruples the frustration. Adding to that is the long-distance transmission delay that causes one of us to start talking over the other one pretty routinely.

It is an overall nightmarish process, and while you could take the annoyingly cheerful If-that's-the-worst-thing-that-happens-to-me-today-I'll-be-OK approach, there are others who want to whine about the erosion of neighborly customer service and I am one of those people.

Anyway, the purpose of my call at 3:45 p.m. was to make sure my installation was still on the schedule. On Monday, I was given that 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. window, and told I'd get a call 30 minutes before the installation tech's arrival. As I write this, it's now 4:15 p.m. and still no call. You can bet I'll raise holy satellite television hell if this install doesn't go down today.



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